Getting to know someone for the first time can be both exciting and nerve-wracking. Whether it's someone you met on a dating app or someone your best friend set you up with, figuring out a new person can be tricky — but it doesn't have to be. There are plenty of simple things you can do to help build a strong connection with someone new, from asking them about their likes and dislikes to doing a fun activity together.
Building a connection with someone new can be as easy as asking them different questions to get to know them better. "Ask your date about their family." April Masini, New York based relationship expert and author, tells Bustle. "It allows them to open the door to tell you about who they are based on upbringing. It also lends the conversation towards a back and forth on similarities and differences between your families."
But making a connection that lasts can also come down to what you actually do on your dates. Talking with your potential partner is great, but where you talk to them can also make a difference. Here are seven things you can do to build a connection with someone new:
1. Go On An Adventure
Turning your date into a planned adventure like horseback riding or hiking can help create shared experiences with someone new. Or, the adventure could be something unplanned that you make the most out of. "When you get a flat tire, miss your dinner reservation and have to make your own fun out of an unexpected situation," Masini says. "These are the ways you connect — through shared experiences, and even more so when the experiences tend towards adventures."
2. Take Time To Have A Conversation
Going to the movies is a classic date move, but it doesn't give you a lot of opportunity to get to know your date. "If you’re going to a movie make sure you have an equal amount of time outside of the theatre, whether it’s over dinner, coffee or a long walk home together, so you can figure out if you have a connection," Masini says.
3. Ask Open Questions
Asking questions that start with "how" or "what" can get conversations flowing. Asking someone what their favorite book is or how they got into their career can lead to interesting answers that will help you form a bond with this new person. "Another approach is to say ‘tell me more’ which provides the person with the space to expand upon what they are talking about," Kathy Taberner, co-founder of the Institute of Curiosity tells Bustle.
4. Try Being Non-Judgmental
Being openminded when you're starting a new relationship is key to building a connection with a new partner. "Choose to listen in an open and non-judging way," Taberner says. "We don’t have to agree with the other person’s perspective, just be open to understanding it so we better understand and appreciate them."
5. Do An Activity Together
While every first date doesn't have to be an adventure, doing any activity with someone new is a great way to build a connection with them. "When you are doing an activity-based event, your brain is firing neurons during the shared activity and taking in the uniqueness of the experience," Rhonda Milrad, a relationship therapist and founder and CEO of relationship app Relationup, tells Bustle.
An unforgettable date is something you and your new partner will be able to bond over as your relationship grows, so doing something as simple as playing mini-golf or taking a tour of a museum can help build your connection.
6. Go To A Busy Place
It might be tempting to get some alone time with the new person you're seeing, but being completely isolated from other people might put too much pressure on you and your date. "Go to a busy place so you will have things to talk about and it can break the ice," Audrey Hope, a celebrity relationship expert, tells Bustle. "Find a happening place and look at the people and enjoy the ambiance. This is a great way to feel at ease."
7. Be Positive
Being excited about the prospect of starting a new relationship will lend itself to building a connection with someone new. "Smile and be grateful for the opportunity for true love. Don't sweat the small stuff," Hope says. They are as nervous as you, so let go and be kind and leave critical energy at home."
Dating can be frustrating, stressful, and exhausting, but try going in with a positive attitude — you may be surprised at how much your perspective can change.
Images: LordHenriVoton/E+/Getty Images; Giphy